Cloud or On-site Communication System?

19 Dec 2014

With today's technological climate, it's not unusual to see the ease-of-use and cheap complexity of cloud technologies at odds with privacy and security concerns. When it comes to your company's intellectual property, should this have an influence on what you use for internal communication?

This decision is absolutely the case of battling priorities. If your highest priority is being able to search past communications, you may be willing to overlook some of the privacy and security concerns. If you're working with sensitive information, however, the benefits of keeping it off-line, or at least in-house, maybe worth the costs associated with trying to retrieve an old conversation.

For us, speed and efficiency of communication is paramount in our choice of tool. For that reason, we currently use slack, a chatroom-based communication tool that allows us to paste documents, images, and code snippets directly in our conversations. It is fully searchable and reasonably priced.

Occasionally, we do need to share or distribute a file or two that needs a little extra care. For these tasks, we make use of Google Drive or Dropbox. This is not to say that Slack is necessarily insecure, but it's not always the right tool for the job.

It hasn't always been cloud-based communication tools for us, though. At previous jobs, and even at earlier stages in the company, we've used tools like a locally hosted Jabber server, an Exchange server, and even our own IRC server. Ultimately, we found these to be more hassle than they were worth and settled on using the more sophisticated, cheaper, and more cutting edge tools that the cloud has to offer.

Keep in mind that what works for us may not necessarily work for you. The most important deciding factors should be your specific priorities and the problems that you're trying to solve within your organization.